Best place to be born in 2013: Switzerland

November 29, 2012

Switzerland is the best country for a baby to be born in 2013, according to a new study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is based on both subjective and objective quality of life factors.


Mund, Switzerland (Sylvie Bigar)

The variables include life expectancy, gender equality, political freedoms, and even climate, but because the study looks at where "to be born" not "where to live," some of the factors look at what life will be like in those countries in 2030, when children born in 2013 reach adulthood. 

Rounding out the top 10 are:

2. Australia

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. Denmark

6. Singapore

7. New Zealand

8. Netherlands

9. Canada

10. Hong Kong

It's not just the wealthy that rise to the top, and that might be why Costa Rica (#30) outranks the much wealthier Russia (#72) by so much. The report authors write:

Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too. In all, the index takes 11 statistically significant indicators into account.

The United States didn't crack the top 10 this year, because American "babies will inherit the large debts of the boomer generation," the researchers write.  

In the 1988 survey, the United States came in first, followed closely by mostly European countries and several high-performing Asian ones, such as South Korea and Japan:


Screenshot: Economist

Now, Japan and South Korea rank 25 and 19, respectively, perhaps because their economies have become more troubled in recent years.

Europe has also slipped in the rankings because the ongoing euro-zone crisis there has caused severe unemployment and "eroded both family and community life," the authors write.

And the bottom five -- Angola, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Kenya and Nigeria -- may come as no surprise, since they are usual suspects in perennial "worst countries" lists.

Disagree with the list? The full methodology can be found here.

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Max Fisher | November 29, 2012